KEITH LANE lives in Deloraine these days but once he was a London architectural draughtsman who visited the Turners in the Tate during his lunch hour. In his artistic practice the dramatic landscapes of the English Romantics, JM Turner and John Martin inspired him with their complex smoky layering and glorious atmosphere.
Painting at the end of the Napoleonic era these artists had no dearth of smoke and fog to lend their work drama and mystery. In two extraordinary works (1834/35)Turner painted the burning of the Houses of Lords and Commons from watercolour studies made from the banks of the Thames during the conflagration. Back in his studio he formalized the accidental destruction of the grand monuments with oil paint, setting in place a tradition of realist painters painting flames eg Tim Storrier.
Turner’s connection to Tasmania is quite direct as the best of Australia’s Colonial painters, John Glover, knew Turner well both as colleague and rival. As young painters both were inspired by Claude Lorraine and the plein air painters of the Barbizon School.
Glover’s move to Tasmania has had many artistic repercussions particularly on Tasmanian contemporary landscape painting.
In this exhibition, Phoenix Rising, Keith Lane draws on both the London inspiration of Turner and John Martin, painter of apocalyptic scenes. Like Glover, he transfers this influence to the Australian landscape, where he interprets our interesting times in terms metaphorical and actual. The exhibition is a narrative of eventual triumph over adversity. The Canberra bush fires, pandemic and flood all test our tenacity and we see in the titular Phoenix Rising the bird reborn from the coals and fly away. After the Rain sees the fire recede and we can see the smoke clear and a glorious view of the sun. In the morning the Phoenix watches as the birds return to their homes in Dawn of the Birds.
Glorious colour and complex surfaces describe a landscape of hope, where better times await. Betty Nolan